Monday, February 10, 2014

Adelaide Fringe 2014 Preview

It's become a tradition for me to go through the Fringe guide each year and list the shows I think – for one reason or another – seem worth seeing. So, here's what 2014 has to offer: it's a mix of cabaret, comedy, dance and theatre.

Neither in any particular order nor clustered together by genre/art form... 

Michelle and the Gentlemen's Club – the Town Hall Tour
February 15 – Mount Barker Town Hall
February 21 – Nuriootpa Memorial Hall
March 14 - McLaren Vale Institute Hall

Michelle – who I know from the Adelaide theatre and cabaret scene – sold out her debut show in last year's Fringe. I wouldn't be surprised if she repeated that feat this year; she's a great performer.

Tickets and info here.

My Breasts and Me
February 15 – March 1
The Soul Box

"This show is about breasts. Large breasts. My breasts. With jokes, songs and stories pouring out my DD-Cup sized-bra, 'My Breasts and Me' gives a glimpse of life with breasts. From love, to heart ache, to back ache, join me in exposing my journey from hating to loving my breasts." 

I met Bronwyn a couple of years back when she appeared in My Romantic History with the Uni of Adelaide Theatre Guild and I was stage managing; last year I saw her perform a couple of songs during the Cabaret Festival – revealing that, as well as being a great comic actor, she's also an amazing singer. So, I reckon this is definitely one worth seeing.

And of course there's the fact that this has to be the best name for a show in Fringe history...

Tickets and info here.

Sound & Fury: Hitchcocked, Hamlet & Juliet
February 14 - March 2/February 20 - March 15
Birdwood Exhibition Centre/Gluttony - the Bally

The first Sound & Fury show I saw, Private Dick, was one of the funniest shows I've seen. Since then, though, S&F has had some lineup changes and have not quite matched that production – but their particular brand of comedy (they refer to themselves as 'vaudeville nouveau') is clever and original and worth seeing nonetheless.

Tickets and info here and here.

Big Band Burlesque
February 20 - March 1
The Big Slapple - 48 Lounge

"A smorgasbord of burlesque glitz and glamour set to the live music of Capitol Swing! Starring The Strawberry Siren (Miss Burlesque Australia 2013), Vesper White, Becky Lou (Miss Burlesque Victoria 2013), Luna Eclipse (Miss Burlesque South Australia 2013 and Entertainer of the Year 2013), Sapphire Snow (Miss Burlesque South Australia 2011) and Lady Cara. SOLD OUT season in 2013."

Featuring award-winning performers from around the country and my very good friend the super-talented Lady Cara, Peaches 'n' Gin Burlesque know how to put on a show. Get in quick; tickets will sell fast.

Tickets and info here. Show website here.

Sammy J & Randy's Difficult First Album Tour
February 18-23
Garden of Unearthly Delights - Paradiso Spiegeltent

"To celebrate the launch of their Difficult First Album, Sammy J & Randy are hitting the road armed with nothing but a keyboard and a suitcase of songs. Plus undies. Plus toothpaste. Plus an assortment of international power adaptors. But mostly, songs."

Sammy J is one of my favourite performers; his show with Randy from a few Fringes back, Bin Night, was a highlight of that year. Will definitely be catching the skinny man and the purple puppet this time around.

Tickets and info here.

Albert Einstein: Relativitively Speaking
February 15 – March 16
Holden Street Theatres

I saw John Hinton's 2012 show about Charles Darwin and loved every minute of it. I expect this show to be just as awesome.

Tickets and info here.

Improvise to Go
February 14 - 26
The Producers Garden

"The follow up to the 2013 Dungeons and Improvisation Adventure Show, called "Sensational" by Rip It Up! Inspired by Monopoly two main characters, chosen at the beginning of the show, will travel the board where every street is named by the audience. With cash in hand these characters will move from street to street while an entire improvised story unfolds! Now you can see what really happens when your piece goes directly to jail or only won second place in a beauty contest!"

What more can I say? Improv's difficult, but this is an experienced bunch, which makes a huge difference.

Tickets and info here.

Notoriously Yours by Van Badham
March 5 - 12
Channel 9 Kevin Crease Studios

"An anonymous internet sex encounter exposes a woman to a realpolitik world of danger and destabilised identity."

After much acclaim for their production of Muff in 2013, highly regarded Adelaide company present another play by outspoken Australian sociopolitical commentator and playwright Van Badham.

Tickets and info here.

February 14 - March 16
Gluttony - The Peacock

"From the minds of internationally acclaimed magicians and mentalists Vinh Giang and Matt Tarrant comes Deception.

A show designed to explore the hidden secrets of the human mind. Deception is a delicious cocktail of astounding feats of magic, mental agility, mind-bending memory, spectacular sleight of hand and the ability to play the audience like a finely-tuned instrument.

Winners of the 2013 & 2012 Bank SA Talk Fringe Award, and 2013 Young South Australian Entrepreneur of the Year."

There are always at least a handful of mentalist/magic acts in the Fringe these days; Deception is from a couple of award-winning local guys.

Tickets and info here.

I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe
March 3 - 15
Bakehouse Theatre

In the very first Adelaide Fringe I went to after moving here in 1998, I saw only a few shows (at least in comparison to as many as I see these days), but one of them was the absolutely mind-blowing production of I Might be Edgar Allan Poe by its creator, Dawson Nichols. Now, sixteen years later, he's bringing it back.

It's an astonishing show, about a mental patient obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe, and performed by one of the most talented actors I've ever seen on stage. His ability to portray multiple characters – and switch between them in an instant – is so good it's actually disconcerting.

Tickets and info here.

Cabaret Live
February  15 - March 8
La Bohème

"Cabaret Live throws a spotlight on the new faces of cabaret in Australia. This nationally acclaimed showcase of up-and-coming performers has become integral to artists' development and is proud to have launched many cabaret careers. Hosted by Sidonie Henbest and Matthew Carey at Adelaide’s home of cabaret, La Bohème."

You never know quite what you'll get at Cabaret Live – but you can be darn sure it'll be entertaining.

Tickets and info here.

Marie Clark Presents: from Stage and Screen
February 23 - 28
Salisbury Secret Garden

Marie Clark are a local Adelaide amateur company, and one with whom I've worked on a number of occasions – right now I'm in rehearsals for their May production of Calamity Jane – and in this show a bunch of their talented regulars will be performing songs from (as the title suggests) musicals and movies.

Tickets and info here.

Emma Knights Productions: Floating Melodies on the Popeye & Pirates of Penzance on the Popeye
February 14 - March 2 and February 28 - March 1
The Popeye

Emma is one of Adelaide many furiously busy musicians - I've known her for many years, and she was musical director for the production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying I was in last year. She's been performing these shows on the Popeye for a while now. Floating Melodies features live music while you enjoy local food and beverages (included in the ticket price), and Pirates of the Penzance is a scaled down cabaret version of the Gilbert & Sullivan musical comedy.

Tickets and info here and here.

The Bunker Trilogy: Agamemnon, Macbeth and Morgana
February 14 - March 16
The Bunker

Jethro Compton – who, in 2012, brought us the amazing shows Outland and The Boy James – is back with three shows, all based on classic stories: one from Greek mythology, another the Shakespeare play and the third Arthurian legend – each reset in the trenches during World War I. All three look very impressive, and I'm definitely going to try to catch them all.

Tickets and info here, here and here.

Where's My Pony?! And Other Stories Of Betrayal
March 6 -7
La Bohème

"It’s like Sex and the City but with one girl and songs. Exploring the idea that apparently there are 3 things you need to be happy, a great career, a perfect relationship and money. They say most people have 2 out of 3. What happens when you were aiming for all 3, but you feel you have none? Do you keep following the rules or follow your heart?" 

I've seen writer/performer Carla Conlin a few times over the last couple of years, and she's always been amazing - a wonderful singer and storyteller with a great sense of humour. I expect this to be another excellent show from her.

Tickets and info here.

Virtual Solitaire
February 20 - 22

"VIRTUAL SOLITAIRE is about Nathan, a man lost in full- immersion virtual entertainment. The game is a murder-mystery, and as Nathan tries to find his way out he begins to realize that this might be more than a game – someone might be intentionally keeping him online. He surfs through more than two dozen characters in the entertainment, searching for the shifting line between VR (virtual reality) and RL (real life). And perhaps this is the mystery of the murder-mystery. And if that’s true, perhaps the murder is his own."

Another show from Dawson Nichols, who I mentioned upthread. I saw this one in 2000 and, while it's probably not as epic as I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe, it's still a great show.

Tickets and info here.

Saturday Night Soiree
February 15 - March 15
La Bohème

"The Soiree brings together some of the country’s finest talent from cabaret, burlesque, theatre and dance as they turn up the heat at La Bohème, every Saturday night during Fringe."

La Bohème is very much the heart of the Adelaide cabaret scene; this late-night extravaganza brings together some of the city's most talented locals to perform there.

Tickets and info here.

Xanadu: The Musical
March 5 - 8
Star Theatre

The kitschy roller-skating-heavy 80s film is one of my guilty pleasures – driven mostly by a fondness for both Olivia Newton-John and the music of ELO – so I'm pretty keen to see the stage version. That it involves some of Adelaide's great creative types – David Gauci and Emma Knights – and performers like Lindsay Prodea and Kate Dempsey is even more of an incentive.

Tickets and info here.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
February 27 - March 1
Star Theatre

"A hilarious tale of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. The hit musical about the unlikeliest of heroes. A quirky charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time."

I saw a production of this show a few years back; it's brilliant. Adelaide Youth Theatre have built a great reputation for themselves over the last few years, and this cast includes great young Adelaide talent, including Buddy Dawson who starred as Finch in the production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying I was in last year.

Tickets and info here.

Soul Night at the Cinnamon Lounge

February 26 - March 1
Marion Cultural Centre


…it’s the early 1970s in Adelaide. You, a young music aficionado, have developed a taste for a new kind of music with earthy vocals, catchy rhythms and heart wrenching lyrics. It’s difficult to find venues that play soul music here in Adelaide, but you’ve discovered a funky little underground club with a house band that pumps out the most contagious tunes. 

You’ll be swept away by the high energy of the live band and dance and be moved by the personal stories of the performers and the turbulent zeitgeist of the seventies –shaped by the Vietnam war, conscription, the protest movement, changing gender roles, sexual liberation, second wave feminism and the pervasiveness of cigarette advertising."

Heard about this show from a friend; the company, Move Through Life, has been performing in Adelaide for ten years.

Tickets and info here.

The Joy Protocol

March 2 – March 16
The Maid

"We’re told that success brings happiness, that once we have that great job, that gorgeous partner, that awesome house or that hot car we’ll be content. But it doesn’t work that way and we end up reaching out for the next shiny object that we think will do the trick. Happiness seems to be always just out of reach.

But what if it was the other way around? What if being happy first, brought success? What would that mean for how we run our lives?"

Maggie Wood is an award-winning comic and coach (and, like me, a reviewer for the Adelaide Theatre Guide); I expect this show – which combines aspects of both those worlds, as well as music – will be a hoot. And probably a thought-provoking one.

Tickets and info here.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Women Write Songs Too!
February 15 - March 15
Various locations

"An exclusive collection of female song writers in a show delivered with passion and wit. Featuring the compositions of Peggy Lee, Bobbie Gentry, Laura Nyro, Pink, Ann Ronell, Carolyn Lee, Cynthia Weil & others."

I heard about this show because the aforementioned Emma Knights is playing for it; as a general rule I expect anything she signs up for is going to be worth seeing.

Tickets and info here.

Musical Skeletons in my Closet
February 21 - 23
La Bohème

"Alison Kimber has a guilty pleasure. But she's coming out of the closet. Part Judith Lucey, part Edith Piaf, Alison will lead you on a shameless celebration of soaring melodies, schmaltzy ballads and stirring anthems. From Abba to Carreras, Alison questions our reluctance to embrace the music we secretly love."

Alison's show sold out during the Cabaret Fringe last year; that's a pretty good sign that it's worth seeing. It's also yet another show featuring the musical talents of Emma Knights. The woman's everywhere!

Tickets and info here.

Further information

Read about my previews and adventures in Fringes past in these posts - one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

I'll be trying to make regular updates here on the blog, but it'll depend on how busy I am. Proper reviews will appear on the ATG website – you can also follow the ATG on Twitter to get frequent updates on when reviews are posted. I'll no doubt be tweeting regularly, so feel free to follow me if you don't already. The Twitter hashtag for the Fringe is #adlfringe.

Also check out Kryztoff Raw for their reviews.

The Fringe ticketing website – where you can search for show information as well as buy tickets – is here. Also check out TalkFringe, which is where people post their own short reviews of shows, with ratings – and, since the ratings are aggregated, there's always a list of the most popular shows, which is handy if you aren't sure what to see.

Hope to see you out and about during Adelaide's fantastic festival season!

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